Shed Some Pounds

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy[c] awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. (Hebrews 12:1-2)

Read: Ezekiel 29:1-30:26, Hebrews 11:32-12:13, Psalm 112:1-10, Proverbs 27:17 

Relate: “I’m just a girl waiting for my prince to come riding into my life on a white horse and save me from this mundane life. I’m waiting for my knight in shining armor, the guy who can show me that happily ever afters really do exist.” In preparation for this post I was planning to look up some facts on the armor from the medieval age. Instead this quote popped up right near the top of my feed, attributed to unknown. Personally, I don’t think Unknown is nearly clever as he thinks he is. Far too many things are attributed to him that really were said or written to others and I had a feeling Unknown wasn’t truly the author of this quote. After all, many of the other things he said make it clear he is a dude, but this definitely sounds more like something a lady would say.

In a brief effort to prove my suspicions right, I put the quote in the search bar and asked Mr Google to work his magic. After scrolling through the first few pages it was clear that this mystery would not be solved easily and so I gave up. I don’t really care that much about this quote to go digging. Though I might not care for this quote, apparently plenty of girls on dating sites do. Mr google told me that there are plenty of girls out there who have put this as their “about me” description. Now I know, when it is time to leave the single life behind all I need do is learn to ride a horse and invest in some high quality LARP gear.

I do find it amusing how many people tend to romanticize the “elite” soldiers from this era of history. King Arthor’s round table was filled with men of courage and integrity and valor who gallivanted around the countryside slaying dragons, rescuing damsels, and outwitting questioning trolls on bridges. (I prefer to just ignore the trolls that frequently pop up on my river walks) These men feared nothing.

Well, almost nothing. I tend to believe that each and every knight who ever decked himself up in all those refurbished pots and kettles did actually have one terror in common. I don’t think there was a knight in existence who was not scared of falling off boats or bridges. Think about it. How quickly do you think those clumsy or outfought fools will find themselves embedded on the bottom of the sea? They don’t stand a chance. The moment their overbalanced accoutrement  pulls them into the water they are done for. No chance.

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For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and through him God reconciled everything to himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.(Colossians 1:19-20)

Read: Jeremiah 4:19-6:15, Colossians 1:18-2:7, Psalm 77:1-20, Proverbs 24:23-25 

Relate: “No. This is a lie. I don’t know how to prove it to you, but I know this is a lie.”

With this statement, I knew that any further discussion in this direction would get nowhere. It was the end of a conversation barely more than an hour ago. A Muslim man wanted prayer for peace of mind. I prayed, along with a couple other Christians for him for a short while, and then asked:

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One Big Family


For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you. (Galatians 3:26-29)

Relate: Sometimes it seems like the disparate pieces don’t quite fit together. My church here in Southeast Turkey is in many ways three different churches that all meet under one roof. There is an English speaking, a Turkish speaking, and an Arabic speaking service every Sunday. Even in the English service there are between 12 to 20 different nationalities and cultures represented any given Sunday. Many of these are African and sometimes the worship can get a bit… rowdy. Others in the congregation are from Central or Eastern European countries and are coming from a very high church background where you would never imagine such exuberance in the sanctuary.

For many English is actually a second or third language and so it is difficult to structure and shape a message that can be both challenging and clearly understood. I have to admit, sometimes things don’t always fit together. Egos get in the way. Sensibilities are upset. Cultures clash. But these are moments to grow and stretch. We are a family and I don’t know about you but growing up in my home sometimes siblings…  well, they taught their parents the necessity of patience. Honestly, I would be very worried if someone said there was always perfect agreement and serenity in their home. Either someone is very dishonest or something very weird is going on in that house. I’d put my money on an alien mind control device. Is there any way I could buy it off you or at least borrow it for a couple of my classes?

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Living Sacrifice

And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. (Romans 12:1)

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One Voice

May God, who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other, as is fitting for followers of Christ Jesus. Then all of you can join together with one voice, giving praise and glory to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 15:5-6)

Read: 2 Chronicles 30:1-31:21, Romans 15:1-22, Psalm 25:1-15, Proverbs 20:13-15 

Relate: I recently read an article from Relevant Magazine pointing out how some major theologians of the past would not be considered evangelical if they were  around today. To be honest it was not a very well written or researched article, I am surprised and disappointed that it made it by the censors of what at one time in the distant past I considered a great (shall I say… Relevant?) magazine. That said, the sentiment of the article was spot on. We today are far more (and far too) concerned with orthodoxy where we should be focusing on unity.

Honestly, I do not like a lot of major big name influential preachers these days. Joel Osteen… he preaches far too much about blessing and not nearly enough about repentance. But he has a message of love and encouragement that many desperately need to hear. Steven Furtik… I am not a fan sometimes of his analogies or illustrations. But man, that guy can preach and people are clearly getting saved and lives changed through his ministry. The Gospel Coalition… they are coming dangerously close to making an idol out of the concept “the gospel” (No, it isn’t the gospel that saves it is Jesus who saves. No it isn’t the gospel that convicts, it is the Holy Spirit who convicts). But they have some great online resources I have used over and over again. I could go on and on nitpicking both current figures like Joyce Meyer, Rick Warren, Bill Hybels… and historical ones like Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Soren Kierkegaard, CS Lewis, George MacDonald… but does all this focus on differences really do anything at all in advancing the Kingdom. If the devil is the accuser of the brethren, how often are well meaning complainers little more than tools of the devil?

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July 18 – Unjust Punishment

He was handed over to die because of our sins, and he was raised to life to make us right with God. (Romans 4:25)

Relate: Some times life just is not fair. I had a strong sense of the injustice of the world even at a tender age. I was probably eight at the time. I was making some toast in the kitchen when my sister came in and got a drink. She came in through the dining room door, poured herself a glass, then left out towards the office without shutting the fridge. Not thirty seconds later my mom appeared in the kitchen through the dining room door. She saw the open door and me buttering my toast and set in on scolding me for leaving the door open. My protestations of innocence only added lying to my crime which made the entire situation far worse. I don’t remember what my punishment ended up being… probably I had to wash the dishes for the next few days. All I remember was the injustice.

Growing up, I was the brat, my sister was the angel. If I did something wrong I would get in trouble. If she did something wrong, if there was even a sliver of uncertainty of who the culprit was, I would get in trouble. Though she will deny it to this day, we both know there was more than a few times I took the punishment on her behalf. The thing is, I don’t ever think I took that punishment voluntarily. Let me take that a step further: I am absolutely certain there was not one instance where she was getting in trouble and I volunteered to take her place. To be fair, the opportunities for me to take her punishment were few and far between. I was getting punished far more often than she was but despite the far greater number of opportunities, she never volunteered to take my place either.

We didn’t because people don’t. It just isn’t done. Maybe on occasion a spouse or a parent or child will take this noble walk, but even then it is a very rare thing. Yet we were strangers to God when He took our place. We were considered his enemies when He died for us. That is beyond my comprehension.

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Who Is This Son of Man